Udo Zimmermann (*1943) The Schuhu and the Flying Princess
Opera in 3 Parts 1976 Text: Peter Hacks
13 soloists – orch I: 2(picc).1.2.0. – 18.104.22.168. – timp.perc – pno.singing saw – strQuin / orch II: like orchester I. plus tape and barrel-organ (4rec)
World premiere: Dresden, December 30, 1976
1. Original version (165’)
2. "Salzburg version”. Abridged version by the composer (120’)
Duration: full evening
Text by the composer and Eberhard Schmidt after a text by Peter Hacks
Place and time: The stages of the fairy tale: the tailor’s house, grand duchy Coburg-Gotha, at the bottom of the mountain, Mesopotamia, Kingdom Tripoli's, Holland
Characters: The Schuhu (baritone) - The flying Princess (soprano) - Tailor’s Wife (1. soprano) - 2. soprano - 3. soprano - Neighbor (1. alto) - 2. alto / Mayor (1. tenor) / Highest Snail herdsman , also Schuhuloge (2. tenor) - First Spinach Gardener (3. tenor) - Tailor, also King of Tripoli (1. bass) - Emperor of Mesopotamia (2. bass) - Duke of Coburg-Gotha (3. basses)
They play the further parts: village people, guards, snails, spinach plants, warriors, 10.000 scholars, sparrows
Both orchestras as well as the arranger should be visible in the scenic field and, if possible, be involved in the setting. According to the work one of the orchestras represents the grand duchy Coburg-Gotha, the other one the Kingdom of Mesopotamia.
A poor tailor and his wife are expecting their tenth child. Instead of giving birth to a baby, however, the mother produces an egg out of which emerges a little bird-boy after a year. The little creature, called Schuhu, is blessed with the ability to make the most of very little. For instance, he impresses everyone when he helps his father tailor a coat for the mayor out of a remnant of cloth. The mayor, who is also the bird-boy’s godfather, wants to keep Schuhu, but the creature now begins to make the worst out of everything. Overwhelmed, the tailor finally chases his son away. Schuhu offers his services first to the Duke of Coburg-Gotha, then to the Duke’s brother, the Emperor of Mesopotamia. The two siblings are at war because the Emperor’s snails have crossed the border and eaten the Duke’s spinach. The Emperor puts Schuhu to the test by quizzing him, and Schuhu solves all the riddles with flying colors. He is then given a post as night watchman.
His horn playing then entices the daughter of the King of Tripoli as if by hypnosis. Her singing, in its turn, beguiles Schuhu and they fall in love. However, both the Emperor and the Duke are courting the daughter of the King of Tripoli for political purposes. When the two brothers realize that Schuhu is their rival, they form an alliance against him, but lose the battle. Schuhu and the Princess meet for the first time in Tripoli and marry. After an amorous escapade with a Dutchman who chains her to a cheese, the Princess tearfully returns to her beloved Schuhu in time for the happy end.
Jürgen Freier (Der Schuhu), Helga Termer (Die fliegende Prinzessin) u. a.
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig, cond. Peter Gülke
LP Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin, Nova 885 117
Helga Termer, Jürgen Freier, Wolfgang Hellmich u. a, Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig, cond. Peter Gülke
CD edel 0013012BC